In this companion volume to the two-part NOVA television special by the same title, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and astronomy writer Donald Goldsmith attempt to cram 14 billion years of history into 300 pages.
The result of this audacious exercise is a surprising and engrossing book, one that far surpasses the droning tone of so many astronomy texts.
Starting (of course) with the Big Bang and ending with the search for extraterrestrial life, the authors synthesize the results of several scientific fields to present a sort of cosmological consilience.
They also emphasize the scientific method and its inherent skepticism as the only way to understand such mysteries as dark matter, stellar formation, and the origin of life on Earth.
Although several books are published each year that provide overviews of various branches of science, what's different about this one is the accessible tone of the writing.
The authors use mild humor throughout to keep readers going in difficult sections; for instance, when assessing the question of why we live during the rare time when the amounts of dark and not-dark energy are roughly equal in the universe, they relate that cosmologist Michael Turner calls the situation the "'Nancy Kerrigan problem,' in honor of the Olympic figure skater, who asked...
'Why me? Why now?'" Combining 21st-century astronomy, astrobiology, astrochemistry, and other disciplines, Origins is a fine guidebook with which to journey "back to the beginning of everything." --Therese Littleton.
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